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Peter Coppinger went from an idea of creating a project management tool to a company with 20+ employees and more than 1 million customers in nearly every country around the globe. What started as a tool to compete with the likes of Basecamp has evolved into a full suite of products including time management tracking, chat, help desk and more. He began coding the first version of the software on his sister’s sofa and hasn’t looked back since. The business has evolved, re-branded and experienced explosive growth with no plans of stopping anytime soon. Learn more about Peter’s background, find out what’s in store for the future of Teamwork (our #1 pick for the best project management software) and get some advice from this Irish businessman who rocks the web.
What growing pains have you encountered and what have you learned from them?
I think any company at the beginning will have growing pains of some sort. Once we came up with the idea for Teamwork, we were clear as to what we wanted to achieve with our products. However, since we began as a web development agency, we had to figure out how to make the transition from that to a product-based company and we obviously wanted that transition to be smooth for all of our users.
Initially you’re taking care of every aspect of the product from build to support to marketing and you have to figure out how to prioritize everything with the resources you have. Looking back I think we definitely would have paid more attention to the marketing of Teamwork Projects because at the time we focused more on product because it came naturally to us. I do think to be successful you need to do both marketing and product well.
Other than that as we’re evolving so rapidly I think a major challenge is finding the right people. The developer skill set we look for while growing is still hard to find. We make no secret of the fact that we look for the best developers who are as passionate about our products as both Dan (co-founder) and I are. We really look after our people and value each and every employee so we’ve been lucky in the sense that, that positive word of mouth has spread and we continue to find great people. Everyday brings a new challenge but you’re always learning. It’s important to surround yourself with a strong team who have the right attitude.
What other features do you hope to integrate into Teamwork?
There’s always lots in the pipeline for us. Over the years we have built up a fantastically loyal user base and we rely a lot on their feedback to help us figure out what’s coming next in terms of features. We’re also very transparent with them and have created a road map so they know what’s coming next. Right now we’re working on notebooks, more advanced email notifications, task descriptions and some updates to our calendar to name a few. As for integrations we have a really exciting integration coming up in September. It’s under embargo until then but we’re really looking forward to its launch.
where do you see the future of virtual teams going?
I think it’s definitely the way things are going. Advances in technology are allowing this but also modern companies are making allowances to attract and retain the best people. We’re one of those companies. Right now we have employees working from the U.K. and Bulgaria and to be honest it works really well for us. There has to be a level of trust between the employer and employee but I think virtual teams are a great thing as it gives you access to a whole other talent pool.
It also creates a massive opportunity for us. We use all of our tools; Teamwork Projects, Teamwork Desk and Teamwork Chat to coordinate every team so you don’t really notice them not being physically present. We take full advantage of what we have and that’s why it works so well for us. We can communicate across all of these great platforms and have everything and everyone updated in real-time.
Has there been any push back in convincing users to switch from other project management tools?
The feedback we’ve received from those who have changed already has been absolutely great and so far I’m not seeing any regrets. Basecamp will always have its loyal users who only need a certain amount of features and you can’t blame them for not wanting to move in the same way you can’t blame someone for wanting to move for more advanced features. We offer a lot more features than Basecamp and we do them really well so it has been a natural progression for quite a few of our users.
Who is your business mentor and what have you learned from them?
The original inspiration for me was Bill Gates. I devour every essay written by the brilliant Joel Spolsky. More recently I’ve been fortunate to meet HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan who gave us some invaluable marketing and growth advice. I also admire Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.
How do you stay up to date on the latest trends and new developments in the software/coding world?
It’s definitely getting harder as I have to divide my time between the role of CEO (tasks like management, planning, establishing the right culture and setting the vision) along with my first love – programming. I stay up to date by reading every chance I get, listening to podcasts on every single journey, consuming RSS feeds and via our “Inspiration & Great Design” room in Teamwork Chat. I try to learn every single day.
What’s It like in the day of the life as a programmer at Teamwork?
Typically a good gang of us meet at our local coffee shop. We shoot the breeze about the latest technology trends, movies and so on. Every programmer has his own office with a door he can close when he needs to work on something tricky. We believe this is essential to minimize interruptions and everybody respects that a closed-door means “I’m making something amazing”. We give developers the best possible tools including standing desks, desk treadmills, 3 monitors and the latest gadgets and gear. Developers are given a lot of trust and autonomy to get their work done, in their own time. We also give them 10% time to make something that will impress us.
What blogs or websites do you frequent?
Reddit.com, asmartbear, highscalability.com, blog.intercom.io, mixergy.com, fogcreek.com, knockmeout.net, desiretoinspire.net and of course our teamwork blog.
What’s the one gadget you couldn’t live without and why?
If I had to choose just one I guess it’s my iPhone. I literally can’t go anywhere without it.
What advice do you have for others looking to start their own business, specifically a technology start-up?
Think big, attack a big market and work like a dog.
Peter Coppinger – Egg Talks
Peter is usually behind the computer but was recently behind the microphone to do an “Egg Talk” in April 2014. In this 15 minute talk, Peter discusses the history of Teamwork and the evolution of the brand over the years (including the story of how much he paid for the Teamwork.com domain name. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t cheap).
Teamwork To Take Over the World?
Teamwork is only getting started. Over the next 4 years, they have plans to radically improve their products and extend the product range with hopes to being the world’s only suite of Integrated SaaS business products, allowing an integrated solution to run your entire company. Watch out world. Teamwork is coming.
Inspired by Peter? We sure are and it was an honor to interview him for our “People Who Rock the Web” Series. Learn more about Teamwork and why they were our #1 pick in our in-depth review of the best project management tools.
Does your company use Teamwork? What do you like about it?
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